Reviewby Chris Shepard
Vol. 2 - Battle in the Moonlight
As the battle between Kenshin and Sanosuke comes to a conclusion, a new enemy has appeared. A sick and twisted yet heavily skilled serial murderer that lives to kill has been eliminating Imperialist politicians left and right. This has been causing an ordeal so large that the police must now rely on Kenshin. The only problem is that in his current state of mind as a rurouni, his ability just cannot match up. Will he throw away all that he has worked for to become a "manslayer" once more?
Rurouni Kenshin is a heavily popular anime with an enormous fanbase. With this second volume, we're given the first glimpse as to why. First of all, lets start with the technicals themselves. Instead of going with a "super duper samurai action" kind of cover you'd almost expect from a domestic company with a title such as this, we're given a much more classical looking image collage. While it does show some impressive PhotoShop work, the final result gives a slightly bland feel. However, due to the nature of it all, it still remains eye-catching.
The menu of this Media Blasters DVD, although basic, works just fine. It doesn't contain any but it does its job. The lack of animation and music from the menu maintains the classical feel created by the cover, so it is consistent. Inside the extras section you'll find a great number of special features to remind you why you invested in your DVD player in the first place. First of all, the linear notes. This is something I believe should included with every anime DVD. It goes over each and every single translation issue you can think of and you might even learn something from it as well. While I can't exactly agree with how everything was dealt with, such as changing hitokiri to "manslayer" in the subtitles, that's just me being picky. We also get your standard mediocre art gallery, a spiffy textless version of the anime closing, and the outtakes. The outtakes are a nice extra, containing some of the goof-ups made by the dub actors as well as well as them making attempts to be funny. Nothing too hilarious but it's entertaining during its first watch. As for video quality itself, with a higher end setup you will notice that it does contain some rainbow artifacts. It's a good transfer overall but leaves room for improvement. However, the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio job presented is done well and I found no real problems with it.
As for the actual content of this disc alone, apart from the rest of the mammoth series, it's quite satisfying. We start off by finishing the story set up in episode 4 of the last disc. Sanosuke, with his tremendous hate towards Imperialists, which Kenshin once was, declares that he cannot lose his battle. However, the battle never quite reaches that raw edge and intensity that you'll yearn for. It's apparent from the very beginning of who's going to win. The music reflects this as well. Instead of the type of music you'd expect during a heated battle, you get the "Kenshin kicks butt" happy music through quite a deal of it. Overall, a slight disappointment in an otherwise entertaining fight. However, don't give up action fans, it sure does pick up. Consider this an appetizer for the main course ahead.
Kenshin as well as a great deal of other fighters are hired by the police force in attempt to defeat a devious serial murderer who has been knocking off many Imperialist politicians while killing anyone else he sees, just for the fun of it. Unfortunately for Kenshin though, things just don't go quite as smoothly as they have been previously. Being out of practice and maintaining his no-killing attitude, he just can't measure up to this demon of a man in the midst of a battle. Will Kenshin throw away all he has worked for in his peaceful life in the past 10 years to him to return as the manslayer he was during the revolution?
Finally a real battle. While it starts off with the campy happy music discussed earlier, the entire mood quickly changes and it becomes much more serious. We're finally presented with a battle in which we can't completely guess the outcome from the very beginning and we don't know what the final resolution will be. With its good action backed up by a nice plot setup, Rurouni Kenshin shows its first signs of becoming the great epic that its destined to become later down the road.
One thing that keeps this show from slumping to the level of its fighting anime peers is its detail in plot. Being very loosely based on historical events, each character has their own story and an interesting past, which unravels as the series goes on. Sanosuke does not just crash land in from space to fight Kenshin over the next 15 episodes just because he was born from a fighting race and wants some action in his life. He has reasons, very plausible reasons, for wanting to do battle and they're all explained. This is just one of the many reasons why you may be interested in investing in this series.
Although the popular unbias opinion says that the first season of Kenshin drags on tediously, this is still a disc to get even if you can't afford each and every single episode. We're still in the middle of being introduced to the characters and getting used to our heroes. There's no apparent filler to be found here, unlike some of the future episodes that have yet to come this season. The content remains fresh and good. While things never get quite as intense and extreme for any good deal of time, keep in mind that this still is just the introduction. An introduction to what will become one of the most rawest and exciting anime shows produced in recent years. With 87 episodes still yet to come, believe me, this show picks up quite a bit, regardless of the fact that it's already above average. If you're into action as well as a little comedy thrown in at the appropriate times to keep things from seeming too much like a soap opera, check this series out. Chances are you'll be glad you did.
Overall : B
+ Well crafted plot and good action.
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